Are you tired of all this emphasis on unity among believers? Paul isn’t finished even yet. Now he delivers his coup de grace, namely, “Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 2: 5). Nothing less than sharing the attitude that Christ exhibited in His incarnation will enable a body of believers to fulfill the scriptural injunction to live in unity—each and every redeemed member of the body truly loving and selflessly and sacrificially serving others and thereby serving and honoring God. Paul’s enumeration of Christ’s attitude includes more than will be noted here, but four points are particularly pertinent. What, then, is the attitude Christ demonstrated that we must imitate?
1. Christ “did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped” (v. 6). Of course, no believer ever is equal with God—a fact that makes this requirement all the more condemning. We, who come so short of the glory of God, constantly fall to the temptation to hold onto whatever shredded fragments of glory we can grasp. We want to hold on to this accolade, that acclaim, and the other applause. We want to want to use this ability, that skill, and the other gift to gain recognition and adulation. We want to grasp this opportunity, that advancement, and the other promotion. But our Christ—very God—did no such thing at His incarnation. Though He truly remained equal with God, even during His incarnation, He refused to utilize either the power or perquisites of deity to make His life other than fully human—with all its weaknesses, sadness, distress, and suffering.
2. Christ “emptied Himself” (v. 7). Notice, predominantly, that no one either forced or tricked Christ into this action; He emptied Himself entirely of His own volition. It was His whole-hearted choice to do so. John MacArthur mentions five “divine rights” of which Christ divested Himself. I can do no better than to offer his list. Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ divested himself of (1) His divine glory, (2) “His independent divine authority,” (3) the independent exercise of various attributes (such as omniscience and omnipotence), (4) eternal riches, and (5) “His unique, intimate, and face-to-face relationship with His heavenly Father.” The incarnation is the account of a riches-to-rags story without parallel.
3. Christ took “the form of a bond-servant” (v. 7). A bond-servant literally had nothing to call his own; his life and everything in it belonged to someone else—his master. He existed to serve others in whatever menial task or ignoble way that was required. His life was one of obedient subservience, all that he himself wanted or even needed was held in abeyance to the will and desires of his master. And so it was with Christ. He became a slave to His Father’s will and, in some sense, the wills of wicked, degenerate men in order to suffer and die so that God might be just and the justifier of sinful men.
4. Christ “humbled Himself” (v. 8). He willingly bore the rejection, scorn, slurs, contempt, and hatred of, in some cases, family, “friends,” and foes. But the full extent of that humbling was that He became “obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (v. 8). The One who is Life, the One who alone gives physical life and who alone sustains physical life, the One who holds the life of every human being in His hands, not to mention the One who alone can impart spiritual and eternal life, freely submitted to ignominious and excruciating death by crucifixion in order that He might be the savior of those whom His Father had chosen.
Don’t let Paul’s mild language fool you. Paul’s “have this attitude” expresses a command. You and I are commanded to have the attitude Christ exhibited as expressed in our text. Unity is priceless; it should not surprise us that obtaining it costs so much. Unity is godlike; it should not surprise us that the flesh resists it so strenuously. Unity demonstrates the transforming power of redemption and glorifies our Savior, Jesus Christ, and our Heavenly Father; it should not surprise us that it requires more than human endeavor to achieve it. How will you and I respond?
Previous Page | Next Page